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Indigenous Peoples

    December 08, 2011

    An emergency intervention by the Red Cross has focused political attention on the severe housing crisis in the northern Ontario Cree community of Attawapiskat. However, international human rights bodies have been raising concerns for years about the conditions in many Indigenous communities in Canada.

    After visiting a number of First Nations communities in 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing called on Canada to "intensify measures to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians." Basic services are taken for granted by most Canadians. Indigenous peoples' rights to these services are not diminished by the fact of living in remote communities.

    The federal government has never engaged in a proper, comprehensive assessment of Attawapiskat’s needs and why these needs are not being met. However, when the housing crisis became a national scandal, the government's first reaction was to remove the Chief and Council's authority by placing the community under third party management. According to media reports, the government’s offer of emergency housing is conditional on accepting this third party management.

    November 02, 2011

    "Access is a very serious problem on private land. The workers of a forest company kicked me and my family off a property. We were told we were trespassing. We live in fear of arrest or harm when we attempt to continue our traditional lifestyle in our own territory. We have difficulty carrying out our ceremonies, harvesting wood, medicines, food, hunting, bathing or fishing in our own territory. These have serious consequences for the health, strength, spirituality and survival of our Hul'qumi'num people." -- Hul'qumi'num elder Luschiim

    On Friday October 28, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights heard the moving testimony of a Hul'qumi'num elder, Luschiim, who talked about being denied access to lands that are essential for ceremonies, for hunting and fishing, and for gathering foods and medicines. The situation faced by the Hul'qumi'num people of British Columbia is avoidable and it is shameful. Amnesty International is fully in agreement with the Hulquminum Treaty Group that it  represents a clear violation of well established international standards for the protection and fulfillment of human rights.

    February 08, 2011

    Thousands of Canadians have asked for the opportunity to express their views to a public review of the proposed Enbridge oil sands pipeline across central British Columbia to the Pacific Coast. This extraordinary display of public interest has caught the attention of the federal government.

    In an open letter posted to his department’s website – just as the public hearings were about to begin -- the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, defined the export of oil sands crude to new markets in Asia as "an urgent matter of Canada’s national interest" and complained that opponents are "stacking public hearings… to ensure that delays kill good projects."
    While the Minister is careful to state that the regulatory system must be "fair, independent, and consider different viewpoints including those of Aboriginal communities," the clear implications of his letter are a) that the government had already made up its mind to support the proposed pipeline and b) that the government believes that hearing from everyone who has concerns about the pipeline will simply delay a project that would otherwise get under way much sooner.

    June 16, 2010

    More than 2,600 oil and gas wells have been drilled on Lubicon Cree land in northern Alberta, Canada. this intensive development has taken place against the wishes of the Lubicon people and has had tragic consequences for their society and livelihoods. there are fears that even more destructive forms of extraction are planned for the future.

    The land is crucial to the Lubicon culture and economy. Before large-scale oil and gas development began, the Lubicon Cree were largely self-sufficient, relying on hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional land uses to meet most of their needs. The environmental impact of oil and gas development has made these activities almost impossible, plunging the Lubicon Cree into poverty.
     

     

    OTTAWA - With federal political parties preparing for an election year, Amnesty International and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) are calling on Canadians to help make ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls a priority for all politicians. Our organizations will be working with women’s organizations and other allies across Canada to ensure that all parties make tangible commitments to end violence against Indigenous women and girls in the upcoming election.

    Recently released RCMP statistics report the murder of 1017 Aboriginal women and girls between 1980 and 2012, with more than 100 others remaining missing under suspicious circumstances or for unknown reasons.

    NWAC President Michèle Audette told a press conference on Parliament Hill today. “Each woman was somebody. She was also somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, or friend and every one of them deserved to be safe from violence. They deserve more from our Government than excuses and a patchwork of underfunded and inadequate programs and services. We need solutions and actions that will make a difference in women’s lives.”

    Governments across the Americas continue to discriminate against Indigenous peoples by denying their right to have a say on decisions which may have devastating consequences for their cultural survival. Motorways, pipelines, hydroelectric dams and open-cast mines are some of the development projects which governments continue to carry out on or near Indigenous territories without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.

    The right to consultation, as established in various international human rights standards, is key for Indigenous peoples. They have a special relationship with their territory and environment and their cultural survival depends on it. As Eriberto Gualinga from the Sarayaku Indigenous community in Ecuador has put it “for us, the rainforest is life. It gives us our identity as an Indigenous people. Our life as a people depends on our natural environment.” The following is a summary of some of the serious challenges that Indigenous peoples face on a daily basis as they claim the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent.
     

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